Abuse, torture, struggle, stardom, diva. All these terms describe Tina Turner and her life. After reading her autobiography I, Tina I was in awe of Ms. Turner. Tina, with the help of MTVs Kurt Loder, co-wrote her autobiography. I originally saw the movie, Whats Love Got to Do with It before reading the book, but I really wanted to read her story and when I found the book at Value Village for about $2, and I couldnt pass it up. I will discuss certain parts of the book, so forgive the long summaries.
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Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in the small town of Nut Bush Tennessee to Zelma Bullock, a black Indian and Floyd Richard Bullock, deacon of the Woodland Baptist Church. Tina has an older sister named Alline and Tina explained that at the time, she was considered an outcast, because she was the youngest born to the Bullocks. Her childhood was that of any child born in the country. Was she poor at the time? She didnt know. All she knew was that she lived on a farm. She discussed the segregation and how strong it was at the time. Tina discussed how she was treated as a child and how she didnt get to spend as much time with her favorite aunts and how Alline got to, but never jealous toward her big sister
Tina discussed everything in her past. From her first love, Harry Taylor (the boy she lost her virginity to in the backseat of a car), to her favorite cousin and childhood friend, Margaret. Margaret took Tina under her wing and taught her everything her mom didnt. Margaret told Tina about sex and kissing and even taught Tina how to French kiss. She was more than a cousin; to Tina Margaret was her world. When Tina heard the news that Margaret and Evelyn, another cousin, were killed in a drunk driving accident, Tina was devastated. She just lost her best friend in the whole world. How was she going to cope?
The first time Tina met Ike (born Izear Luster Turner on November 15, 1931) was in 1956, when Tina was sixteen. By this time, Tina and her sister, Alline, were living with their mother once again in St. Louis. Tina got permission from her mom to go out with Alline. They went to East St. Louis to hear Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm. According to Tina, one of her first thoughts of Ike was that he was quite ugly and couldnt understand how and why the women were so in awe of him.
Her life was changed then after meeting Ike. It was one ordeal after another. Ike was in control of everything from booking the bands shows to selecting backup singers for Tina (who were called the Ikettes). He was a businessman and knew the ins and outs of the music industry and was determined to have a hit. Once he heard Tina sing, he felt he found a goldmine and wanted to cash in on his new found fortune. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue was born.
Tina discussed the beatings, and the beatings, and the beatings. Anytime something went wrong, Ike took it out on Tina. He would use anything he could grab hold of, but she mostly discussed how he liked to use wire hangers. Most of the time after he beat her, Ike would have sex with her. Tina would have lots of bruises on her face but still had to perform. She used lots of makeup to hide those bruises. Looking at past pictures, its hard to believe that she had any scars because she hid them well. For Ike, his philosophy was the show must go on, despite beatings or illness. There was one instance where Tina became really sick (they were on tour constantly, sometimes three shows a night) and Tina had to beg Ike to take her to the hospital. It turned out she had a very bad case of tuberculosis and was forced to be admitted to the hospital. Ike was not happy about this because this meant losing money from performances. He rarely visited her in the hospital and even when she was sick, he made her perform. Ike made Tina live in fear but despite it all, Tina loved him.
Ike was also a womanizer. In fact, he was the one who changed her name to Tina Turner as a way to show his power over her. Tina discussed the many women Ike would openly hit on in front of Tina and how he wouldnt have a care in the world. At the time he and Tina married, Ike was already married. He brought women into their bed; he even brought some of these women to live in their house and help raise the children. There was nothing Tina could do because if she protested, it would just be another excuse to beat on her.
Tina put up with Ikes abuse for sixteen years and as the years went by, her love for him slowly began to deteriorate. Tina spoke of one day, she just fell out of love with Ike. By this time, he was also into cocaine and the beatings got even worse. Tina had enough. She spoke of Maria Booker, who helped her when she left Ike for the last time; she spoke of how she did chants and found Buddhism. When she finally left him on July 1, 1976, they had a show in Dallas. By this time, Tina had a game plan and was determined to leave. She finally stood up for herself when Ike wanted to have his own way. He was shocked and words were exchanged between the two. Of course, he beat her and this beating seemed to be the worst one of all. As he was beating her, she wouldnt cry, but would fight back and it made him even more angry. But she stood her ground, despite how hard he beat her. She had to she knew she was leaving.
She never made it to the stage that night and after leaving him, things were very rough. She really couldnt go anywhere because she was sure someone would recognize her or Ike would have someone on the lookout for her. Her life was threatened many times and at times, she wasnt sure if she would make it. It was a long ordeal, and eventually the divorce ended when Tina told her lawyer she didnt want anything. She didnt feel it was worth it. She just wanted Ike out of her life so she could move on.
Moving on was tough as well. How was she going to make it on her own? Would she be able to make it on her own? She was older now, who would want to listen to her? With the help of her manager, Roger Davies, the road the stardom for Tina was long, but the rewards were worth it. She discussed her successes in Europe and Australia and how hard it was for her to score a hit in the U.S., mainly because of Capitol Records. The U.S. label didnt want to recognize her. At the time, it took a comment from David Bowie, who said Tina was one of his favorite singers that Capitol suddenly changed their tune. They were now big fans of Tina and couldnt get enough of her.
Private Dancer was released in April 1984, with Whats Love Got to do With It as the first single. The buzz was in everyones ear and everyone had Tina on the brain. By September, Private Dancer, peaked at number three, behind Princes Purple Rain and Bruce Springsteens Born in the U.S.A. The album yielded two more Top 10 hits: Better Be Good to Me and Private Dancer.
The moment of truth came at the 1984 Grammy Awards in February 1985. As the moment was being recounted in the book, all I could do was go back to that day in my head. I remember everything about that awards show. I think I even recorded it. Tinas performance was one that stood out the most. I remember the silky red dress that she wore as she strutted her stuff during her performance of Whats Love Got to Do With It. I remember the crowd going wild after her performance. Tina won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for Whats Love), Best Female Rock Vocal Performance(for Better Be Good to Me and the coveted Record of the Year for Whats Love. Tina was here to stay!!!
In all honesty, the movie did not do the book justice. I thought Tina told her story very eloquently and in such a matter-of fact tone that you almost feel as if you are a part of the story. What I liked about how the story was told was that we not only hear from Tinas point of view, but from the various people in Tinas life. We heard from Alline, Zelma, Harry Taylor, Roger Davies, and even Ike himself. Tinas story was shown from many different perspectives and the reader got a chance to hear things from different points of view.
Why do I call Tina Turner a diva? Because she is. I feel Tina is the epitome of all things diva. She endured a lot and still came out on top. Today, everyone knows Tina Turner; we cant get enough of her. From her sultry voice to those legs, we idolize her. Shes sexy, sophisticated, a lady and this year, she turns 64. Tina is a true diva.
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